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July 19, 2014

From Zero to Hero: How Mobile Revolutionized Planet Marketing

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Mobile marketing has gone stratospheric since the advent of the smartphone, but it’s been around in some form or another for more than 20 years. SMS messaging gave marketers a whole new channel to pursue during the 90s, when cell phone ownership first became widespread. Now, with text messages the most commonly read form of communication, advertisers are cautiously rediscovering the possibilities of SMS marketing.

But mobile marketing is about much more than SMS. The smartphone age has seen to that by putting the power and connectivity of a desktop computer into the palms, pockets and handbags of almost everyone in the western world. Some inroads were made into serious, non-SMS mobile marketing tactics during BlackBerry’s first flush of success in the early noughties, but when the first iPhone hit stores in 2007, marketing execs really sat up and began to take notice. 

As developers clamored to create apps to go along with Apple’s devices, the first wave of modern mobile marketing tactics began to take shape. The focus was very much on volume, and publishers relied largely on getting high app store chart rankings in order to gain visibility. Marketing efforts were all about short-term gains, with the main objective to generate as many downloads as early as possible in order to climb the charts. Quantity reigned supreme over quality.

These early years of app/mobile marketing were dominated by incentivized downloads – something Apple continued to allow until April 2011, despite the obvious credibility problems. Tracking performance was problematic. Platform regulations were loose, and developers took full advantage; it was essentially a land grab, the Old West of app and mobile marketing. 

By 2012, developers began thinking about the possibilities of quality and performance tracking. CPI-based campaigns gathered steam and, and better quality tracking was sought. For their part, Apple tightened its rules, clamping down on people accused of gaming the chart system by using bot farms to generate inauthentic downloads.

Around the same time, publishers became more data-focused, integrating in-app analytics software to collect metrics like usage, engagement, retention and monetization potential. There was a growing focus on high-quality user experience – but mostly with the objective of retaining customers for the medium-term.

That all began to change over the last 18 months, as a new climate took hold in the tech world. The shift is now overwhelmingly moving in the direction of stellar quality, as mobile marketing campaign managers realize that acquiring new users, even for a pittance, is not sensible unless they are retained, engaged, and monetized. Against that backdrop, some unlikely transactions have taken place – such as the $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook – but there is no doubt that the app world has raised it’s game. With GPS technology and other location-based tools fast improving, the future of mobile marketing is unpredictable, but undeniably exciting.

 

 

July 16, 2014

Could the Yo App Become a Serious Mobile Marketing Tool?

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In case you haven’t heard, the app marketplace is abuzz. The conversation revolves around a new app, called Yo. While the capabilities of the app are quite limited, the possibilities have yet to be determined.

The app works like this: once you’ve downloaded Yo, you can send a message to any other user of the app – as long as that message is “Yo.” At first glance, this app appears to be a joke on the user. It was launched on April Fools Day, and several of the reviews of the app lean toward the absurd. One user even claims: “Since downloading Yo, all of my relationships have improved and I’ve regrown most of my hair.”

Perhaps the most uncanny story about Yo is that the inventor, Or Arbel, has been able to raise one million dollars in support of the app.

Mobile marketing is serious business. In the past year, the techniques of mobile marketing have become innovative, and extraordinarily useful for consumers. Apps can track users’ locations and their buying habits, all while creating the simplest purchasing experience possible. Frankly, Yo doesn’t seem serious enough to constitute all the buzz.

Suppose you own a clothing company, and wish to send a yo to each of your customers to let them know that you are having a sale. You can’t let them know about what clothes are on sale or how much, nor can you personalize any pertinent information about your upcoming sale. The only the message you are able to send is that one word, Yo. Certainly the app will generate some traffic back to your website – for the consumers willing to take that step, that is. Most consumers won’t respond, however, because there are several other apps garnering their attention, ones with much more information and more appealing ads.

That said, there is a sort of intrigue surrounding the use of Yo. Often times, advertisers do not need to send much information, and the message can be implicit. Advertisers will undoubtedly find a space for this technique in mobile marketing, but it will require some very creative groundwork. The key will be to find the right time and place to send the “yo” to users so that their interest is piqued, coupled with a consumer base that “enjoys the hunt.” For those mobile marketers willing to take the plunge into the realm of minimal marketing, only time will tell if Yo is the way to go.

July 08, 2014

Six of the Best: World Cup Apps

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Another World Cup, another rush from mobile marketing strategists and app developers to come up with ways of capitalizing on an event that has the attention of millions around the globe.

With multiple matches each day (at least during the group stages) and live screenings beholden to every different time zone, it’s not always convenient – even for the most ardent fan – to keep track of all the action. On the Pacific Coast, for instance, games kick off between 9am and 3pm, when most people are at work.

Thankfully, there are loads of clever apps on the market to help you stay abreast of all the action. And unlike 2010, this year’s tournament has arrived at a time when smartphones are most definitely the default mobile device for Americans, so almost everyone can benefit. Let’s take a look at the very best World Cup apps out there…

1) ESPN FC Soccer & World Cup

This free app takes an exhaustive, comprehensive approach to football stats from around the world, but what we’re really interested in is the World Cup tab where users can find out all the latest match news and scores. It includes video content so you can key moments and catch up on goals. Customizable, well designed, and easy to use, the ESPN offering is a stellar one.

2) World Cup 2014 Brazil

Available for free with Google Play, this app is as utilitarian as its title. Stats-focused, with full competition details and data customization, this neat green and yellow app is a beautiful, Brazilian-themed tool that will ensure you won’t miss a thing.

3) 2014 Table

Another Android offering with a straightforward name, this takes a pared down approach, giving subscribers only the essential information they need. Great for bloggers and journalists who want to cut to the chase and find the latest scores and tables, 2014 table auto updates as each new development occurs.

4) LiveSoccer World Football Cup

Track live matches from soccer leagues around the world, or just use it for the duration of the biggest sporting event on earth. Customizable push notifications will keep you informed of all the latest goings on, and a rich user interface doesn’t interfere with a high degree of user friendly slickness. 

5) Squawka

Mobile marketing campaign managers have aimed this little number squarely at the stats-obsessed football fan who wants easy access to the cold hard facts. Player information is cross-compared, allowing subscribers to play the ultimate living room manager by supplying detailed information on everything from goals and substitutions, to fouls and assists. Every tackle and pass is logged. This one’s for the completist.

6) BBC Sport

Available free for both Android and iPhone, the BBC app is an essential download for any World Cup devotees. It combines live text commentary for each game with push alerts every time a goal is scored. There’s also a way to stream regular Radio 5 World Cup bulletins. Along with the iPlayer, British football fans get everything they could need to see them through to the final.

June 12, 2014

Mobile Marketing Tactics: Buy Online, Pick Up In Store

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In an era when Amazon.com can deliver almost anything imaginable – by delivery truck or even via drone  – consumers have increasingly come to expect items for purchase to be not only inexpensive and widely available, but also shipped to them quickly and conveniently. As a result, brick-and-mortar retailers everywhere are struggling to keep up with emerging technology. That struggle can be especially difficult in the midst of elevated demand for free shipping when retail margins are already growing thin.

The good news is that savvy retailers are figuring out ways to harness mobile technology to better meet consumer demand and simultaneously increase in-store foot traffic. Leveraging the power of SMS text marketing campaigns, retailers are urging their mobile customers to order items online and pick them up in-store.

Consumer Convenience that Also Benefits Retailers

Because of the high cost of shipping, increasingly more retailers are seeking cost-saving measures that include delivering purchases directly to stores instead of homes, as well as allowing customers to return mobile online purchases in-store, among other strategies.

Not only do omnichannel efforts help save retailers an enormous amount of money; shoppers appreciate the flexibility these choices afford them. During the past holiday season, for instance, more than one in three online shoppers in the U.S. said they would like the ability to pick up, in-store, items that they had ordered online. The added bonus of offering such an option to consumers is that more mobile online customers come through retailer's doors as a result, increasing the likelihood they will make additional purchases.

In-Store Pick-Up Gives Online Mobile Consumers More Control

While home delivery may sounds appealing on the surface, it becomes a hassle when consumers arrive home after a long day at work just to find that a delivery attempt was made when no one was home. Therefore, more than 80 percent of shoppers consider knowing when a package will arrive to be the number one most important service that mobile online shopping can offer.

In practical terms, giving consumers better control of when a shipment arrives can mean several things. One strategy is to use SMS texting campaigns to alert opted-in consumers that they may pick up items they've ordered online, in-store, as soon as the items arrives. Alternatively, customers may also be permitted to reserve an item online and then both pick it up and pay for it at a nearby store location. In addition, consumers may be given the option to buy the item online via an SMS text link and then retrieve it from the store at a later date.

Allowing in-store returns of mobile online orders, as well as alerting consumers that they may place orders using online catalogs while in the store, are a few additional strategies that offer the consumer increased convenience while also increasing in-store foot traffic. All of these improve the likelihood that mobile consumers will make additional on-premise purchases. In the end, these strategies create a win-win scenario for both businesses and satisfied customers alike. 

June 10, 2014

How to Get More Leads with Mobile Marketing

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Lead generation on the web may seem straightforward enough: businesses simply promote offers on their landing pages and through social media, email, etc., and a lead is generated every time a potential customer fills out the lead generation form. However, mobile visitors do not behave the same as those who surf the web on a desktop computer. Therefore, the online experience needs to be adjusted accordingly in order for mobile marketing to result in optimal lead generation.

Following is a list of mobile marketing optimization strategies for better lead generation:

Using Progressive Profiling Forms. Online forms must be short and easy to fill out, or mobile users won't bother with them. Instead of using long form fills, asking for a plethora of information, progressive profiling forms can be used. With progressive profiling forms, fields that were filled out the previous time by the same visitor can be replaced with new fields, thus making each form shorter and ultimately creating easier navigation and more return visits.

Making Calls-to-Action Simple. The CTA text must be action-oriented, short, readable, and clear. Avoid distracting images that are too visually heavy. The CTA must also be easy to click on a small screen. Think: large buttons!

Advertising Mobile-Friendly Specials. Promotions and discounts that may be redeemed through mobile devices, such as on-location promo codes, are a great way to appeal to mobile users. For example, as customers enter a store, geo-location technology can offer them a specific discount for texting a keyword to the company’s shortcode. The result? An increased sense of customer loyalty as well as a longer list of leads for future business. 

Optimizing Content for the Mobile Screen. People often look at their smartphones when they only have a few extra minutes to “kill.” For this reason, many users may not reach the bottom of an article. Therefore, content should be frontloaded with lead generation links. The content should also be easily digestible, and the purpose of the article should be clear from the start. The writing must be concise and include bold, short, “tweetable” headlines. It's a good idea to test out different types of material to see what mobile visitors are most likely to read, whether it's “how-to” articles or lists – and then create more of that type of content.

Enabling Measurable Action With Just a Few Clicks. People pick up their mobile phones with the intention of taking action, whether that means sending a text message, making a call, or opening an app. Making it easy for users to complete an action in as few clicks as possible greatly increases the chance of bringing them to the point of conversion. When potential customers may simply click on a phone number to place a call, for instance, instead of having to copy and paste it, the odds that they will complete that call are greater. Hence, offer clickable phone numbers and hyperlinks.

Creating a Text Message Campaign.  A mass texting campaign is an easy to get new leads to “opt in.” As mentioned above, for instance, when customers walk into a store and see a sign advertising an automatic discount just for sending a text message, that's a difficult deal to refuse. In exchange, the store may choose to alert the customer once a month about future sales, making him/her a return customer.

The fact that consumers may now access the web so quickly and often means that mobile marketing has a lot to offer when it comes to lead generation. Smart business owners and brand managers know they will create even more leads if they actually make the mobile experience enjoyable for potential customers. Doing so requires making small adjustments to an existing web presence, and those small adjustments can lead to a big payoff in the end.

June 03, 2014

Mobile Marketing Tips for Brick and Mortar Retailers

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As smartphone adoption approaches maximum market penetration, the concept of ‘mobility’ – and how best to reach consumers on the move - is now the number one concern of most businesses. A few short years ago, traditional brick and mortar retailers viewed mobile as an interesting, but minor, strand of their marketing mix. Now, it’s the lifeblood that fuels their wider marketing strategy. 

According to one recent study, local businesses should be the true beneficiaries of this mass migration to mobile. The research found 79% of smartphone owners and 81% of tablet owners used their device to find information on local businesses. Of those searches, some 80% resulted in a sale, and a staggering 75% of searches ultimately led the customer to head to the store. Not only that, but 50% of searchers were dissatisfied with what they could get via mobile (mostly due to poorly designed websites).

There is clearly a huge portion of shoppers who use mobile devices to browse goods before heading to a brick and mortar outlet to buy. Whether it’s because they don’t fully trust online transactions, or they just prefer dealing face to face with a person, this is a significant market. The question is, how can you best use mobile marketing tactics to tell people about your products or services, and attract them to visit your store? Read our top mobile marketing campaign tips to find out…

Tap-and-Collect Services

A winning marriage of online convenience and real-world customer service, tap-and-collect capabilities have been used to great effect by large retail stores who can’t change their business model, but can adapt to a changing consumer environment. It works like this: consumers browse the retailers’ website, put an item on hold, and head down to the store to pick it up and pay. According to eMarketer report, tap-and-collect is the second most important factor in any transaction (behind only the reassurance that items will be delivered on time).

Store Locator

The importance of a mobile-optimized store locator can’t be stressed enough. Some 70% of smartphone shoppers use store locaters to plan their day out, so you need to be sure your store is visible. Keep the links on the homepage, and if your site isn’t mobile optimized, make sure the link is big enough to click on a smartphone without zooming in.

Click to Call

Click to Call and Click to Map remove vital steps between you and the consumer. The easier you make it for them to get in touch, the less likely they are to look elsewhere. Remember, much of your target audience will be on the move as they look at your website – make it too fiddly to use and you’ll turn them off.

Competitive Conquestion

Location based advertising is expected to keep right on booming. A BIA/Kelsey report indicates that mobile ad revenue from location-based campaigns will reach 52% in 2018 (up from 40% last year). Part of that growth will be predicated on ‘competitive conquesting’, an aggressive marketing strategy that targets consumers who are in close proximity to rival firms. Geo-fencing technology is already being used widely by large retailers, and mobile marketing campaigns that used location-based methods saw an average 8% rise in CTRs compared with those that did not. For competitive conquesting, it’s closer to 12%.

In-store pick up and geo-targeting are both being welcomed with open arms by large sections of the consumer public. If you run retail premises and are concerned about the inexorable rise of online shopping, don’t be. Just update your strategy to include mobile marketing tactics, stay abreast of the latest statistics on shopping habits, and remember that although smartphones and remote purchasing are here to stay, they are not mutually exclusive with a successful brick and mortar set up, and when done right, will actually boost your foot traffic.

May 23, 2014

5 Mobile Marketing Don’ts

 

More and more small businesses are catching on to the manifold benefits of mobile marketing, and 84% of companies that adopt a mobile marketing strategy report an upsurge in sales.

With so many new players in the game, rookie mistakes are inevitable. If you want to avoid some of the more common errors made by mobile marketing newbies, read our top five fails so you know what not to do…

Blocking Mobile Traffic

This is surprisingly common. There’s some kind of screwy logic at play: businesses think that just because they don’t have a mobile version of their site, they should block mobile traffic altogether. Bad idea. Something is better than nothing, and smartphone users are getting increasingly nimble at navigating non-mobile sites on their devices, so don’t cut yourself off from a potentially huge audience.

Failing to Optimize for Mobile Search

That said, you really should be working towards having a fully optimized mobile version of your site, searchable on a mobile phone. Remember, people search very differently on a portable device than they do on a desktop. You can’t simply transfer the keywords you target on desktop browsers to mobile. People tend to search for brands and precise names and locations on mobile, because they’re on the move and have a specific destination in mind. Their searches are also more likely to be location-based. The addendum ‘near me’ is a common prompt in mobile browsers – use it to your advantage. Bear in mind too that long tail key terms like your industry + town/city are much cheaper and easier to rank for, so you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you fail to target them in favor of the big keywords.

Omitting Contact Information

It’s surprising how many people fail to put their address on the homepage. It needs to be easy to spot, and attached to an embedded Google maps link to help them find your store. Similarly, your phone number should be prominently featured and a clickable link. The fewer steps it takes consumers to contact you, the more likely they are to do so.

User Unfriendly Apps

Everyone’s chasing the glitzy prize of their very own app. Problem is, the market is now glutted with sup-par apps that don’t really help anyone. Contrary to our earlier assertion that ‘something is better than nothing’, ill-thought-through apps don’t count. An app download is a much bigger ask of consumers than a quick visit to your website. Unless you’re part of a major organization with the clout and budget to build a good app that works across multiple devices, skip it.

QR Codes

No. They seem attractive because they’re free, but they’ve been ruined by poor execution on the part of many, many businesses. Consumer faith in QR codes has plummeted, and they are now little more than odd relics of the late noughties cluttering up billboards and lampposts around the world. Unless you’ve got some compelling new twist on the concept, leave the QR codes in the past where they belong.

 

 

May 17, 2014

Game-ify your Mobile Marketing Campaign

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The drive to play and compete is a part of human nature. People crave the thrilling adrenalin rush that comes along with trying to beat an opponent. The popularity of gaming apps like Angry Birds is a testament to just how universal that craving is. Consumers spend an average of two hours every day on apps, including games. Successful mobile marketing campaigns today are capitalizing on the universal appeal and power of gaming as a great way to boost customer interaction and thus drive sales.

Engaged Consumers Make More Purchases

In mobile markeint, gameification means creating messages that employ elements of fun and play to entertain members or customers. When consumers are entertained, they become a “fan” of the brand and thus more likely to make a purchase. Fun can blur the line between entertainment and marketing, making the engagement experience more compelling for consumers as they aim to defeat opponents or surpass challenging obstacles. The rush of pride and accomplishment that comes from play can directly affect mood and general brand perception.

The success of Verizon Wireless's revamped customer social hub, Verizon Insider, is a perfect example of how marketers can get more from their mobile marketing campaigns through gamification. In 2012, Verizon set out with the goal of increasing customer interaction. Through its gaming campaign, Verizon Insider users earned points and rewards in several ways, including contest participation that allowed players to post their scores on the company's Facebook and Twitter feeds. Just a few months after the campaign's launch, these users were already spending 30% more time on the Verizon Insider site, with page views up by 15%. Verizon's campaign shows that gamification works.

Analytics Drives Purchasing

Marketers hoping to boost brand awareness and/or increase sales should start by analyzing their mobile messaging. A/B split testing and re-targeting are action techniques that help marketers get the most out of their campaign efforts.

For an example of how this type of split testing and re-targeting might work, one can imagine movie fans receiving quiz questions via MMS. Not only do high scoring quiz-takers experience the thrill of victory; these consumers also receive a significant discount on tickets to the upcoming sequel.In addition, they are encouraged to post their scores via social media, sharing the campaign's message with their friends.

During this first phase of the MMS marketing campaign, the company sends two different versions of the message to various consumer groups, testing to see which wording results in higher conversion rates and in what demographic brackets. After the first round of texts, the company then re-targets, sending alternate messages to customers who didn’t respond to the first one. Consumers are targeted with an additional call to action and perhaps an even a bigger discount, increasing their likelihood of conversion. After analyzing the results, the marketers have a solid idea of what works and whom it works with.

Upping the Game

Gamification in mobile marketing has become a major topic of discussion, and its use is only gaining momentum. Regardless of how much fun consumers are having, however, the importance of testing a gaming campaign's messaging is essential if marketers are going to come out ahead and maximize their ROI. For companies, after all, the endgame is always the bottom line.

May 14, 2014

Twitter Adds SMS Messaging Password Resets

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Twitter has updated its security options to allow users to reset passwords via text or email. The updates were unveiled last week.

In order to implement the SMS messaging option, users must associate a mobile phone number with their Twitter account here. Once the phone is activated, it’s possible to disable any unwanted SMS notifications. To reset a password via email, simply click the ‘forgot password’ link on the front page (the option is available on both desktop and mobile versions of the site, as well as the Android and iPhone apps).

Once the SMS messaging request has been sent, a code is sent to the associated mobile phone; the code must be entered on Twitter’s sign in page, followed by the new password.

The move comes after Twitter promised to ramp up security for their service following a spate of suspicious log in attempts. In addition to the new password reset options, Twitter has started analyzing log in attempts based on location and history, in much the same way banks flag up unusual ATM transactions. If they identify an apparently suspicious log in attempt, Twitter will request verification via email or text.

Additionally, the process will ask users a secret question about their account prior to granting access, followed by e-mail notifications if an anomaly has been spotted.
Twitter said recently that user security is a  priority concern, and by adding these new steps accounts will be safer than ever before.

The single biggest breach of Twitter’s security manifested as the recent Heartbleed Bug scandal, which compromised the personal data – including bank details - of millions of users. The micro-blogging site hopes the new measures will prevent similar security breaches in future. A statement on their blog said:

“We’re aware that many people reuse the same passwords across multiple sites. And when any of these sites are compromised, stolen passwords could be used to access your account on Twitter.” 

When it comes to tightening preventative procedures to limit third party hijackings, Twitter is somewhat late to the party. Google implemented a raft of similar security measures in 2010, giving users the ability to track log in history and other information so they could keep tabs on their accounts. 

May 09, 2014

Starbucks Announce SMS for Summer Drinks

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An increasing number of businesses today are using mobile technology to help boost sales. Starbucks' new “Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long” SMS and MMS campaign launch, for instance, is just the latest way that mobile technology has been helping to increase revenue for the world-famous coffee empire.

How the “Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long” Mobile Marketing Campaign Works

The new summer digital marketing initiative sends consumers up to six MMS and six SMS messages per month in exchange for opting in. The company is issuing calls-to-action through these text messages as well as through the company's mobile app. Starbucks' Twitter and Facebook posts also contain similar consumer calls-to-action.

Once they are signed up, consumers first receive a welcome message introducing them to the “Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long” SMS and MMS program. This new marketing campaign features humorous scenarios attempting to demonstrate just how much some Starbucks customers love their Frappuccinos. For example, one scenario features an eagle who is holding a drink and dancing, while another shows a cat holding a Frappuccino. The drink disappears and leaves in its place a kaleidoscope of colors that shoot from the cat's paws.

Texting Keywords to Short Codes and Other Key Mobile Strategies

Asking consumers to text a keyword to a short code is a simple way of getting potential customers to opt in, and Starbucks is using this strategy in a variety of ways. One summer mobile marketing campaign message on Starbucks' Facebook page features a Frappuccino that has had eyes drawn onto it. The message encourages consumers to text the keyword STRAW to short code 22122. “What has a green straw and wishes it had thumbs?” the ad says. The answer: “This guy.”

Within the iPhone app inbox, one marketing message prompts consumers to text the keyword WOOHOO to the same short code. Once consumers have done so, they will continue to receive the “Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long” marketing campaign's messages.

For Starbucks, Continued Success with Mobile Marketing

Starbucks recently announced its second quarter 2014 results, which are extremely promising. In fact, the company's success may help other food and beverage retailers who are hesitant to embrace mobile technology realize that doing so is a smart business decision. All in all, Starbucks has been pleased with the effect that mobile marketing has had on its bottom line, especially when integrated with other strategies such as the company's highly successful loyalty and gift card programs.

The company's recent marketing efforts have also included its Teavana business reinvention attempts, as well as partnering with Oprah Winfrey. Just a few months ago, the coffee giant also unveiled an enhanced mobile app which enables digital tipping and digital receipts. Previous Starbucks mobile campaigns have included an SMS trivia contest and last year's summer campaign, which was similar to “Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long.”